Mid-week corporate calendar gets busier as market readies for September

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It’s set to be a busy Wednesday after markets eased back from the Bank Holiday weekend on a relatively results-free Tuesday.


Corporate announcements will be accompanied by the latest Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Manufacturers’ Index (PMI) reading, which is tipped to be 60.1, down a tad from the preceding month’s reading of 60.4.


Is momentum continuing for 888?


888 Holdings (LSE:888), the online betting and gaming firm, is in a line of business that thrived during lockdown so the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions might not have been greeted by management with unalloyed joy. The half-year results will reveal more on that.


The second quarter of the year was slightly ahead of board expectations, reflecting continued momentum in the business and favourable exchange rate movements, but in its July trading update the company said the board “remains mindful of the potential impact of greater than normal seasonality in the summer post-COVID-19, retail and leisure venues reopening across international markets, and the previously disclosed expected impact of regulatory and compliance changes, which are weighted towards the second half of the year”.


Between 17 May, when UK retail and leisure venues reopened, and 7 July, when the group gave a second-quarter trading update, average daily revenues in the UK were (as expected) roughly 20% lower year-on-year. Analysts, therefore, will be keen to learn whether this trend has continued throughout the rest of July and August.


More on driver shortages from Bunzl


Bunzl PLC (LSE:BNZL), the specialist international distribution and services group, releases its interims and may have something to add to the rapidly unfolding driver shortages story.


There was little mention in the group’s June pre-close statement about any logistical issues other than an oblique reference to “continuing pandemic-related challenges”.


Underlying revenue over the first half is expected to be some 6% higher than the comparable 2019 period. Group adjusted operating margin for the first half is expected to be nearly 1% higher than that achieved in the first half of 2019, thanks in part to COVID-19 related orders.


Positive interims in sight for John Menzies (LSE:MNZS)


John Menzies will update investors with its interim results, coming after a trading announcement where it said it was trading ahead of market expectations.


Regional variations exist, with ground services in Europe particularly weak, but this is offset by trading elsewhere driven by new business gains, a generally strong performance within cargo, tight cost management and additional support from government schemes, according to Peel Hunt.


“Commercially, the first half was very strong and significantly ahead of last year,” the broker said.


“As at 30 June, net debt (pre-IFRS 16) was GBP183mln (31 December 2020, GBP216mln) and total liquidity stood at GBP187mln, with significant headroom against a covenant level of GBP45mln. The restructured cost base and rationalisation of the portfolio should enable Menzies to generate higher returns as volumes improve.”


Significant announcements expected for Wednesday 1 September:


Finals: Arcontech Group PLC (AIM:ARC)


Interims: 888 Holdings, Johnson Service PLC, Menzies PLC, Petropavlovsk PLC (LSE:POG), PPHE Hotel Group Ltd, Bunzl PLC


Economic data: UK/US manufacturing PMI

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